Quick quiz: what are the three most powerful ways to adjust our daily lives to reduce depression?

Answer: Get morning bright light, exercise, and stay connected with friends and family.

Start the day walking with a friend in the early morning light and you get all three antidepressants for the price of one. Not everyone’s schedule allows it, but if your schedule does, what a simple “treatment.” It’s indistinguishable from just enjoying yourself.

We’ve already said enough about bright light and mood. But one of the best things about getting light on a morning walk with a friend is that you’re much more likely to keep it up – just like we’re much more likely to keep exercising when we do it with others. And both exercise and “social connection” each have potent effects on our mood, our general health, and our longevity.

The Mayo Clinic website has a [nice, quick summary of the effects of exercise on depression][1], emphasizing that simple physical activity like walking improves mood. It doesn’t require a formal exercise program.

Our favorite summary of the powerful effects of social connection on our health is still a book Jacquie and I wrote a few years ago, [The Lonely American][2].

So call a friend and get that walk going tomorrow morning. You’ll feel better. And so will your friend.

[1]: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495 “” [2]: http://www.amazon.com/Lonely-American-Drifting-Twenty-first-Century/dp/0807000353/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445693125&sr=1-2&keywords=the+lonely+american), but new research keeps emerging. Just last year, researchers at Brigham Young University reviewed studies of more than 3 million individuals and confirmed that both loneliness and social isolation – even when it was voluntary – shortens our lives (http://pps.sagepub.com/content/10/2/227.abstract “The Lonely American”